NOVA is a volumetric LED object that creates fascinating visual effects by arranging LED voxels in a three-dimensional matrix. The NOVA is animated by user defined video- or graphics sequences that are viewable at an angle of 360° and across multiple layers of LEDs. 2D and 3D assets can be visualized, and depending on the viewer perspective, perceived as concrete or imaginative pictures creating a totally new perception of visual content in physical space. The volumetric content creation is realized by unique software developed at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) exclusively for the NOVA system. The LED modules, equipped with voxel strings of variable length, offer the opportunity to create a wide range of user-defined physical objects that in combination with a boundless variety of content options invite the creative community in architecture, interior design and communications to explore the visual properties and possibilities of this new medium. This paper discusses the design principles and concepts together with the software and hardware behind the NOVA display. In this regard, the installation at Zurich’s main station serves as an example how the NOVA display is integrated in public space and interacts with the audience. Furthermore, the paper covers the lessons learned from operating the system as well as the continuous development of its hardware, software and content over the past 18 months.
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